Why Fast ForWord Remains Our Reading Intervention Of Choice
Fast ForWord software, and more recently the Fast ForWord app for the iPad, has been a leader in reading and cognitive learning software for 15+ years.
There is still a lack of familiarity, even skepticism, with the underlying science, i.e., that new neural pathways can be created and that those new pathways directly improve reading and learning abilities. However, the program’s results are hard to ignore. Today it is stronger than ever — it is available in 40+ countries and has helped 2+ million students.
Gemm Learning is a home-based provider of learning solutions — we are agnostic. That is, we have no particular loyalty to any one program. If a better learning intervention came along we would use it or at least add it to our arsenal. We test new programs all the time, but the results from these programs have so far not measured up to the gains we see from Fast ForWord.
And so Fast ForWord remains our primary and most trusted intervention. Here are 12 reasons to consider the Fast ForWord app and/or software for your child.
#1: It Taps Into Brain Plasticity, An Approach You Haven’t Tried Yet
The school mandate is to teach the child who is presented to them, not to change the underlying learning wiring.
Tutoring is more of the same. It covers the same material taught at school, the difference being the one-on-one attention of a tutor. Ditto for most reading software, the difference being the interactive graphics and/or the lack of need for oversight. The reason these two approaches — tutoring and reading software — don’t work is that they mimic what is already not working at school.
Fast ForWord is very different. It taps into neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to rewire and improve if appropriately directed — to resolve the cognitive skill delays that are restraining your child’s learning and reading. Through systematic, intensive and adaptive mental exercises, Fast ForWord helps the brain re-organize and improve function.
#2: Research Validated (And Some!)
Fast ForWord was developed by four of the world’s leading neuroscientists, and is being continuously validated by on-going research. It is the most investigated educational software of its type in the world.
Prestigious institutions including Stanford University, Cornell University, UCSF Medical Center and Rutgers University have studied Fast ForWord and found it to be an effective intervention. A major 2-year study by the State of Nevada ranked Fast ForWord as the most effective reading program of the 24 tested.
#3: It’s A One-Time Program, One and Done
Used regularly for as little as 12 weeks, Fast ForWord aims to deliver significant results that endure.
By building cognitive capacity that strengthens the entire learning system, Fast ForWord can make gains that become part of the student. The central skill that Fast ForWord builds is language processing. This is a skill that is used every day while listening and reading, and so it is practiced and maintained.
#4: Gains Can Continue For Years After
Because Fast ForWord removes impediments to learning it very often leads to acceleration in thinking and reasoning skills.
This longitudinal study in Dallas, TX showed that a large cohort of students that did Fast ForWord saw gains in the year they did the program and gains in the following 2 years. This outcome has been replicated in other studies.
Anecdotal feedback from our alumnae clients supports this. Parents tell us Fast ForWord “opened the floodgates.” Many report that their children are performing at levels thought to be “far beyond reach” before starting Fast ForWord at Gemm Learning.
#5: Makes A Difference In A Hurry
Fast ForWord uses adaptive algorithms that keep students working productively in their sweet spot where the best gains can be achieved. It also uses “shaping” — tiny, incremental steps in speed and complexity — to maintain this intensity as a student progresses to each new level.
This intensive instruction sets Fast ForWord apart as a learning intervention and leads to accelerated results in a short period. In most cases, students start to exhibit positive changes within 4-6 weeks
#6: Kids Find It Engaging, Even Fun
Fast ForWord aims to be entertaining. It uses point counters, levels, and sound feedback as milestones are met as well as entertaining graphics that create a gaming feel. It is also adaptive, which keeps children working at a level that is neither too easy (boring) nor too hard (frustrating).
Gemm Learning supports this engagement with be sending laminated certificates at milestones. Students also accumulate reward points they can cash in at Gemm City, an online prize and rewards website.
The addition of the Fast ForWord app on the iPad has been another step forward. What child does not like working on the iPad?! Fast ForWord can also be engaging for teenagers. It is a harder sell for sure, but from the teenager’s viewpoint it certainly beats word lists, being tutored or visiting a center, which very often is their alternative.
#7: Individualizes To The Student Making It Robust
Fast ForWord constantly adjusts to allow users to work at their own pace. This maintains motivation and confidence levels and ensures the most efficient use of learning time by focusing on individual learning difficulties.
Fast ForWord has 50+ different exercises sorted into 10 different programs. This gives Gemm Learning a lot of room to build a customized program to meet your child’s specific reading and learning needs. The software itself then takes over, taking your child through the program at his own pace.
This ability for the program to adapt to each student creates intensity and robustness.
Intensity, because it means your child spends most of each session working at the edge of their learning abilities constantly being challenged to push a little higher in each session.
And robustness, in that its ability to adapt means it can handle a wide range of students with wide range of abilities, work rates and attention skills. In a way, this robustness is its secret sauce. It’s what makes it effective in such a wide range of students.
#8: It Almost Always Makes A Difference
Take a look at the fMRI brain comparison here. It shows how Fast ForWord rewires learning, activating language regions of the brain in the reading process.
So far, every fMRI study conducted to track the impact of the Fast ForWord app and software shows a measurable difference in activating language processing pathways.
This makes sense. Think of it in physical terms. If a baseball player wants to throw harder he may start doing lifting weights to build arm strength. If he lifts weights for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 8-12 weeks (the recommended Fast ForWord protocol) he will inevitably build arm strength.
The brain is not immune to this basic biology. Brain exercises should always improve brain function.
Now, improved arm strength will not always translate into stronger throws. Sometimes a mechanics or coordination issue and/or weakness in a wrist or shoulder may limit or negate the impact of a stronger arm. But most of the time added arm strength will flow through throwing harder and further.
The same goes with the brain and learning. Despite improved cognitive skill function from Fast ForWord, sometimes difficulties in other aspects of learning, hyperactivity for instance, may limit the speed at which these gains flow through into reading or may limit them altogether. .
In our experience though, most students see a difference. This consistency of outcomes explains our 96% client satisfaction rate. 96%+ of clients say they would recommend Gemm Learning to others.
#9: Convenient Online On Any Computer Or iPad
Fast ForWord is now an online program, accessible via any computer or iPad using the Fast ForWord app. This means it can be done from any location, any time. This is particularly convenient for students doing Fast ForWord when they are on the move.
Compare this convenience to the restrictions of attending a center regularly or having to fit into a tutor’s schedule.
#10: It’s Diagnostic, You’ll Learn A Lot About Your Child
Fast ForWord is like a gym circuit for the brain. You can test physical fitness before you start working out at a gym, and you may do well. The real story, though, is told when you start using the machines. Only then will you find out your fitness and strength limits.
Fast ForWord works the same way. Your child will start by completing a Reading Progress Indicator test. But the better evaluation of your child’s strengths and weaknesses comes from working on the various program exercises, each one challenging a different cognitive/reading skill or skills.
Within 3-4 weeks you will have a very clear picture of where your child stands — how strong his processing skills are, how his attention skills stack up, where working memory stands, and much more.
#11: It Treats The Underlying Problem, Not The Symptoms
Most reading and learning programs, including tutoring, work around the underlying cognitive delays that cause reading difficulties. They are coping tools; band-aids that make temporary improvements not unlike pumping air into a slow leaking tire.
Fast ForWord is different. It interacts with the deep-seated processing and working memory skills that impede most student progress. By exercising and strengthening these fundamental skills, Fast ForWord is able to make a significant improvements that integrate and become part of the student. It’s a permanent change, a second chance to become an expert learner and reader.
#12: It Works: Average Gains of 2+ Years in 4-6 Months
This of course is the main reason to try the Fast ForWord software or the Fast ForWord app for the iPad. Because by resolving underlying impediments to reading and learning, it is able to make a significant difference for a wide range of students — at different reading or learning levels — working only 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week for just a few months.
While this average gain covers a wide range of outcomes, some seeing several years of gain.
Others see far less gains mainly due to the presence of other learning impediments, most notably sensory integration issues. Gemm Learning is aware of the impediments not addressed by Fast ForWord that impact our outcomes — these students are not good candidates for our program, although some parents go ahead and try Fast ForWord anyway, anxious to capture any possible gain.
While 2+ years of gain is good, parents inevitably end up being more excited by the boost to confidence and engagement in reading that comes from becoming a better learner after Fast ForWord. These gains are priceless. They are also the reason we do this. We live for these success stories!